How to Land on a Planet Safely

In Physics of Fluids, researchers develop a model to describe the interaction between a rocket plume and the surface of a planetary body in near-vacuum conditions. The computational framework takes in information about the rocket, its engines, and the surface composition and topography, as well as the atmospheric conditions and gravitational forces at the landing site, and the results can be used to evaluate the safety and feasibility of a proposed landing site and to optimize the design of spacecraft and rocket engines for planetary landings.